Back when I was little and a lot younger, I remember how Mom would shoo me and my brothers out of the house on nice days. There was plenty of company for us, all of the mothers wanted a little peace and quiet and time to get their chores done. We would go off to meet our friends and play. I had a tricycle (bicycles were for the big kids) and rode it everywhere. That was back in Teaneck, my home town. About 7 blocks from our house was a store called Ronald’s Furniture. They always had these great cardboard boxes which we dragged home or to the back yard of whomever we were playing with to make cabins or forts or whatever our imagination conjured up. There were woods nearby and a bit further was the Overpeck Creek and marshes. Climbing trees, hiding and seeking, “smoking” cattails, throwing rocks at fish. It was great fun and us kids would be out all day. Sometimes we went home for lunch and sometimes we ate at our friends’ houses. Did we detail all of our plans and activities to Mom? No way, we just went “out”. Everyone knew everyone. The thought of child abduction might even have been a wish. (Some of us were mischievous.) If I did a bad thing I could count on my mother knowing through some neighbor. We all watched out for one another. No worries. Dads went off to work, and Moms stayed home, keeping the home front intact. They didn’t often participate and involve themselves in everything we did after school, we did it on our own. No Soccer Moms back then. It built independence.
If my memory serves, I recall that Mom even left us at home alone (yes, alone!) while she went out some days and we did not burn the house down or anything.
That all seems to have changed drastically. Today’s kids must need to be in a bubble. Parents now take their children door to door. I took the Public Service Bus to Washington Irving school as soon as I was tall enough to climb up that first high step. That was about second grade, I think. Other times we walked. I don’t see so much walking anymore, probably why obesity is such a problem. But why all this coddling? Are kids who can program computers and text while eating that stupid? C’mon! Is the world truly so much more dangerous? And is it even possible to avoid every peril, every threat, every risk? Poop happens.
Today, my Mom and all of the others would probably be in jail for child neglect or reckless abandonment.
Sounds crazy but it is happening. Parents ARE being jailed, right now.
Or don’t I have the Big Picture? Again?